The Department of Justice’s 2009 FOIA Guidelines directed agency Chief FOIA Officers to “review all aspects of their agencies’ FOIA administration” and to report annually to the Department of Justice on the efforts undertaken “to improve FOIA operations and facilitate information disclosure at their agencies.” In accordance with DOJ’s FOIA Guidelines, OIP provides specific guidance each year to agencies on the content and timing of agency Chief FOIA Officer Reports and today we have issued the guidelines for agency 2017 Chief FOIA Officer Reports.
Since 2010, OIP has required agency Chief FOIA Officers to include in their reports steps taken to implement the five key areas addressed in DOJ’s FOIA Guidelines:
- Applying the Presumption of Openness,
- Ensuring that there are Effective Systems for Responding to Requests,
- Increasing Proactive Disclosures,
- Increasing the Utilization of Technology, and
- Improving Timeliness and Reducing any Backlogs.
Each year OIP develops reporting guidelines that build off the efforts and initiatives reported in previous years. Our goal is to capture more advanced steps taken by agencies as their implementation of DOJ’s FOIA Guidelines has matured. This year’s reporting requirements also continue to focus on certain areas where further improvements can be made.
The 2017 Chief FOIA Officer Guidelines once again include separate reporting requirements for agencies depending on the number of FOIA requests received in the prior fiscal year. For the 2017 reports there are now three sets of reporting requirements. For small-volume agencies that received less than 50 requests in Fiscal Year 2015, OIP has created streamlined reporting requirements. For medium-volume agencies that received 50-1,000 requests last fiscal year we have more extensive requirements. Our most comprehensive reporting requirements are established for high-volume agencies that received more than 1,000 requests last fiscal year.
As in previous years, OIP has included new questions in the 2017 Chief FOIA Officer Report Guidelines, covering topics such as:
- FOIA program self-assessments
- Requester services
- Methods for improving proactive disclosures
OIP has identified twenty-six high-volume agencies that received more than 1,000 requests during Fiscal Year 2015. These agencies must submit their draft 2017 Chief FOIA Officer Reports to OIP for review by no later than January 13, 2017.
All small-volume and medium-volume agencies must submit their draft reports by no later than February 3, 2017. Agencies are identified as “small,” “medium,” or “high” volume on the chart included in the Guidelines.
Additional details on the review and submission process are included in the Guidelines. OIP will once again host a refresher training seminar on the preparation of both the 2017 Chief FOIA Officer Reports and the Fiscal Year 2016 Annual FOIA Reports. The details for this training will be announced here on FOIA Post.